Dutch eyewear brand, Ace & Tate, is investing in expanding in Europe, sinking the latest round of funding into opening up new markets, omni-channel and sustainability to help drive growth.
A recent financial investment of €14.25 million led by existing investo Rinkelberg Capital LTD, brings the seven-year-old company’s total funding to €57.5 million. This round allows Ace & Tate to invest in three critical areas of the business: retail expansion in new and existing European markets, new technologies to advance the brand’s omnichannel model, and furthering current initiatives to become a more environmentally responsible company.
Ace & Tate has grown 60% year on year for the past two years, having delivered its first operationally profitable months in 2019. Going forward, the direct-to-consumer brand expects to more than double its revenue in the next two years. Shoppers are looking for more agile retail options to shop, try-on, and purchase frames, particularly now, as the COVID19 lockdown relinquishes its hold on Europe.
“Ace & Tate was founded to make quality, stylish eyewear accessible, by giving our customers the best retail experience possible. The recent round of funding will allow us to unify our physical and digital retail channels even further, and to create a frictionless, more personalised shopping experience for our customers,” says CEO Mark de Lange.
Ace & Tate is committed to opening 16 stores across Europe in 2020, bringing the total store count to 70, across 10 countries. The brand believes in the future of offline retail as a destination for more in-depth eyecare and eyewear services. As markets have reopened, Ace & Tate has seen a return of customers who desire both the physical touchpoint to browse, as well as eye-care services Ace & Tate’s opticians and staff provide.
The company is constantly innovating digitally to improve the in-store experience. Most recently added is the “Offline Wishlist” function. Staff can upload frames that customers tried on in-store, giving them the opportunity to virtually try-on at home, and purchase online.
Ace & Tate will align physical and virtual retail channels to create the best possible experience for customers. Virtual services have been extended to include the assistance that previously, customers could only get in-store. Styling and optician appointments are available online, and customers in The Netherlands and Germany can renew their prescription via an online eye test. Ace & Tate’s Virtual Try-On service will see significant improvements in the coming months with the integration of facial analysis, to provide personalised recommendations to customers, both online and in-store.
Ace & Tate has always been committed to creating environmentally responsible eyewear. The brand will launch two new initiatives this summer, to move away from virgin plastic use as well as build a circular business model to reduce waste, and therefore encourage responsible shopping behaviour.
The first, Reframe, allows customers to recycle their used Ace & Tate frames for store credit. These frames will then be refurbished and offered to customers in limited collections. The second initiative sees the brand launch its first recycled acetate collection, made from pre-consumer acetate waste.
De Lange concludes: “As we move into 2021, our customers remain our focus. We will continue our mission to lead the eyewear industry to be more accessible and sustainable.”